Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 29, 2019

Academic libraries are buying fewer books than they used to, according to a new report by research service Ithaka S+R.

The "Library Acquisition Patterns" report, published today, sheds new light on where university libraries buy print and digital books, what they’re buying and how much they spend.

Prior to the publication of the data, the role of retail giant Amazon in library acquisitions was unknown -- leading some observers to suggest that data showing academic libraries buying fewer books may be inaccurate.

The Ithaka S+R report, which is based on data from 154 U.S. universities, shows that Amazon does play a significant role in library acquisitions, but perhaps not as big a role as some suspected.

Amazon was found to be the second-largest vendor of print books to academic libraries but trailed far behind book vendor GOBI -- which accounts for more than 70 percent of print book sales and 90 percent of ebooks. Amazon was not found to be a significant vendor of ebooks.

Other findings in the report include:

  • The number of print books purchased by academic libraries between 2014 and 2017 decreased, but the number of ebooks increased. Increased spending on ebooks was not enough to offset decreased spending on print books over all.
  • The average price of an ebook increased by 35 percent between 2014 and 2017, while the cost of print books remained stable.
  • Libraries spent $3.61 million on information materials in 2017 on average and added 4,750 print books and 345 ebooks to their collections on an individual basis.  
  • Libraries spent 42.6 percent of their print book budgets on humanities titles. Social sciences was the biggest field for ebooks, accounting for 32 percent of acquisitions.

“This project marks a significant step in developing a database of information on books, both print and electronic, in the academic marketplace,” said Joseph Esposito, a publishing consultant and co-author of the report. “Heretofore all analyses were done from surveys and high-level statistics, but the current project is the first public examination of the actual information that libraries use to manage their operations.”

January 29, 2019

Inside Higher Ed's Deep Dive
Into the Credentials Landscape

"On-Ramps and Off-Ramps" examines the fast-changing market of alternative credentials and emerging pathways between education and work. Purchase the special report or download a free preview here.

An emerging category of short-term postsecondary training programs, typically a few weeks to several months in duration, are aimed at working-class adults who lack college degrees and make less than $25,000 a year, according to a new report from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Entangled Solutions. These "on-ramps" can give workers a boost in skills and income, the report found. But they face several barriers to expansion, including a need for stronger business models and tighter connections with employers' HR functions.

"Changes in the economy, technology and the future of work will have broad and massive implications, and they will not be distributed equally," the report said. "These significant developments will make it even more imperative that we scale flexible and targeted programs that meet the needs of both adult learners and employers."

January 29, 2019

Today on the Academic Minute, part of New York Institute of Technology Week, Dongsei Kim, assistant professor of architecture, looks to the Korean Demilitarized Zone to examine how architecture affects us. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 28, 2019

A new analysis from the Pew Research Center offers data on college-educated immigrants in the United States. The analysis notes that the U.S. has more college-educated immigrants than any other country (see data at left). But other countries, including those that have fewer restrictions on graduate students staying in the country, have larger shares of their immigrant populations made up of those with a college degree (see data at right).

January 28, 2019

Science and higher education groups praised the agreement between Congress and President Trump to end the government shutdown, but cautioned that any resumption of a shutdown would be damaging.

A statement from Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, noted that the deal only covers the next three weeks, leaving key agencies for higher education -- such as the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities -- vulnerable. "Although three weeks of funding is better than no funding at all, the U.S. research enterprise does not operate anywhere close to full strength when agencies are only guaranteed to be open three weeks at a time," he said.

Background articles on the shutdown and higher education:

January 28, 2019

Fairfield University announced Friday that it is part of a $60 million settlement (with the payments shared by the universities and various Jesuit organizations) with victims of abuse at the Project Pierre Toussaint, a program in Haiti for disadvantaged young men there. The project was created by a Fairfield alumnus in 1997 and was supported by many alumni. A statement released by the university noted that Fairfield "played no role in the management or governance of Project Pierre Toussaint" and was unaware until news broke in 2008 of the abuse that took place there, including many sexual assaults of young men.

"Everyone in our community has been saddened by these events. Our prayers are with all those whose trust has been betrayed, and we hope that these proceedings and the settlement reached will give some measure of relief to the victims," said the statement. "While these are difficult circumstances, we take comfort in the inspiring work carried out each day by our students, faculty and staff on behalf of others, and our continued commitment to service as a critical dimension of a Jesuit education. Fairfield University continues to provide our students with an un-paralleled education with the desire they use their gifts to pursue social justice and productive citizenship."

January 28, 2019

The Wright State University faculty strike will continue today, as Ohio’s State Employee Relations Board declared the collective action authorized Sunday during an emergency hearing on the university’s unfair labor practice charge against the union. “While [the board] did not rule this strike unauthorized as we had asked, the union’s actions to prevent the university from operating are having a significant toll,” President Cheryl B. Schrader said in a statement, adding that Wright State still planned to meet with the union later that evening to negotiate. The strike over what Wright State’s American Association of University Professors’-affiliated faculty union calls an “imposed contract” began last Tuesday.

January 28, 2019

Melissa Harris-Perry, journalist and professor of political science and director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, said on Twitter that the institution invited her to leave after she criticized it during a speech honoring Martin Luther King Jr. last week.

In her off-campus talk, Harris-Perry discussed the challenges facing black residents of local Winston-Salem, N.C., said the university benefited from slavery and other racist policies throughout its history, and argued that Wake Forest’s food service workers are not assured year-round employment. Wake Forest has since said it hires these workers on 10- or 12-month contracts, based on student needs. It told the Winston-Salem Journal that Harris-Perry’s comments “are misleading and disappointing.” Harris-Perry, who is still at Wake Forest, declined comment.

January 28, 2019

A new Gallup and Strada Education Network study of 32,000 current undergraduates at 43 randomly selected institutions found that the key college experience of having support from faculty mentors does not vary much by gender or race, but does vary significantly by broad field of study. Arts and humanities majors are substantially more likely than business, natural or social science or engineering majors to strongly agree that they had a professor who made them excited about learning, for example. Such findings “are generally consistent with a previous analysis of corresponding items among alumni with different undergraduate majors," according to Gallup.

 

January 28, 2019

Portland State University has announced that it will not continue discussions on a possible merger of the Oregon College of Art and Craft into the university, The Oregonian reported. Portland State officials said a merger was "not financially feasible." The art college earlier tried to arrange a merger with the Pacific Northwest College of Art. The Oregon College of Art and Craft has 140 students and has been struggling with enrollment.

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